Pursuit of Hoppiness
Imperial Red Ale Brewed by Grand Teton Brewing in Victor, ID
of Hoppiness American Red was brewed to showcase the role of hops in
the flavor of beer. Like all of our 2015 Cellar Reserve series, it
was brewed in strict compliance with the Reinheitsgebot, or German
Beer Purity Law.
Hops are a climbing plant, a member of the nettle family that also
includes mulberry, elm, and hops' closest cousin, Cannabis sativa.
Hops have been a key ingredient in beer for at least several
centuries, and perhaps even longer. They might be the plant
mentioned in the Jewish Talmud in relation to "strong drink." Pliny
described them in his Natural History, saying the hop grew "wild
among the willows, like a wolf among sheep." Hops' scientific name,
Humulus lupulus comes from the Latin lupus, or wolf.
Since the 8th century hops have been included in descriptions of
monasteries, particularly in Bohemia, southern Germany, northern
France and Flanders, but the first undisputed reference to hops in
beer is by the Benedictine Sister Hildegarde (1098-1179). Her
natural history writings mention hops and ash leaves in beer (and
cannabis as a cure for headaches).
Perhaps because of their superior preservative qualities, hops have
become by far the dominant spice in beer. Hops lower the pH of beer,
protecting it from spoilage. They provide flavor, aroma, and
bitterness to balance the natural sweetness of the malt. Scientists
have identified more than 300 natural chemical compounds in hops'
essential oils, and professional tasters have come up with scores of
aroma and flavor comparisons, from anise, basil and cedar to
tobacco, violets and wet hay.
The hops grown in the United States are considered to be some of the
best in the world. Compared to their more traditionally subdued,
elegant European counterparts, American hops are bold, bright, piney
Pursuit of Hoppiness was brewed to showcase the brash beauty of
American hops: Summit, Simcoe, Chinook and Nuggets at 100
International Bitterness Units (IBU). It was brewed with Idaho 2-Row
malted barley and German specialty malts to provide a rich, slightly
caramel flavor and bold reddish color. At 22 degrees Plato starting
gravity and about 8% alcohol by volume, this is a perfect autumn
beer, thick and warming, to be shared and savored on a crisp fall
A wonderful beer with food, Pursuit of Hoppiness' slightly sweet,
caramel flavors complement any grilled meat, chicken, barbecue,
salmon, or (perfect for the fall) roasted root vegetables. It's
great with pizza and robust pasta dishes. The spicy, citrusy hops
even play nicely with our favorite autumn dessert, pumpkin pie.
As is traditional, and like all of our Cellar Reserve beers, Pursuit
of Hoppiness is bottle-conditioned so it will age well if properly
stored. Because hop flavor and bitterness diminish with time,
though, we recommend you drink this one fresh. The yeast in the
bottle provides earthy, nutty flavor and is rich in B vitamins. It
can be swirled and poured into the glass, or the beer can be
decanted carefully off the yeast, according to the drinker’s
Review from Beer Advocate
Appearance - This is a reddish-brown in color, mostly brown, with a
modest head that did though leave some nice lacing.
Aroma - This smells like a little bit of everything. The hop profile
is very complex and hard to pin down. On the one had you have some
stiff PacNW citrus notes but then on the other hand are some mild
simcoe aromas. Either way, the brewery name may sound German but
this is definitely an American hop profile.
The malts though are just as big. There is a very slight toasty
character to the malt profile and I can even pick up some sweetish
chocolate. This is very natural-smelling with the promise of big
flavors and big body.
Taste - I thought the strong hops and big malts might collide here
but this somehow achieves a marvelous balance. The sweet malt comes
out big and strong, the hops are grand yet smooth, and everything
melds quite nicely.
Mouthfeel - This is a big beer as promised. I wouldn't call it
full-bodied but it is pretty darn close. The carbs are thankfully
very soft and the beer deftly avoids a harsh bitterness at the
finish with the finely-tuned sugars.
Drinkability - This is one of the more drinkable big beers that I've
had. It has a very natural feel and taste to it and the brewer did a
great job of finding harmony in some big, big flavors.